We look forward to Christmas, to the birth of the Child Jesus, for the feeling of anticipation in awaiting the arrival of the Savior of the world. We realize that as we age, we appreciate the joy of seeing others receiving gifts, rather than that anticipation from our youth of receiving.
You may have experienced the feeling of anticipation – whether it is waiting for Christmas morning, a new birth, a new job, celebrating the vocation of marriage or the religious life.
Yesterday we heard about the anticipation and reward of Simeon, who spent his life awaiting the fulfillment of the promise that one day he would see Christ – and the fulfillment of his promise was more than he expected as he not only met Christ but held him in his arms! Today we hear of Anna, a widowed woman who spent her entire life serving as a witness to Christ.
Even though Anna was able to enjoy her marriage for only seven years, and was left childless and alone, she spent the rest of her life living the choice to serve God through her prayer and praise, in never-ending anticipation of his merciful grace. She specifically moved to Jerusalem so she could be near the temple! Anna’s sole purpose in life was to please God. She was a constant presence at the temple, in a state of fast and prayer. William Barclay once wrote: She had known sorrow, but she had not grown bitter. She was old, but she had never ceased to hope. She never ceased to worship. She never ceased to pray.
As Simeon received the Christ child and lifted him up to declare him as the long-awaited Messiah, Anna was there in the right place (the Temple) at the right time (as Simeon receives Christ in his arms). Anna now knows that her prayers of seeing Christ have been answered, and she continues her ministry in sharing what she has seen.
One of the meanings of the name Anna is grace – how very, very appropriate. May God’s grace fill you as it did Anna, and may you have the dedication to our Lord, as did Anna, in service to the Almighty God in anticipation of his merciful reward. God bless you!
Patty Masson supports the Passionists from Spring, Texas.